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Top 5 Indian NGOs working for widow welfare

WIDOW welfare is not seen as a priority in India, even though the country is home to over 55 million widows, one of the highest in the world.

Losing a marital partner is a distressing experience for both men and women. But in India, because of religious practices, traditions and patriarchal customs, women often face various problems once they lose their spouse. These include social exclusion, discrimination in inheritance rights, violence and even abandonment by families in old age.

Even if there are laws to protect widows and government-sanctioned pension schemes for widow welfare, most women are simply unaware of their rights. Our societal structures are too weak to offer them safety and law enforcement agencies are incapable of protecting them from many troubles that arise. The onus is often on non-profit organisations to help support widows to live their lives in peace.

On International Widows’ Day, we look at the top 5 NGOs that are working in the area of widow welfare by advancing the rights of widows and providing care and access to sustainable livelihoods.

Maitri India

This is a Delhi-based NGO working in widow welfare, rights of widows, violence against women, migrant workers, education, social inequities, legal advocacy and other areas. It has benefited tens of thousands of individuals ever since the organisation was founded in 2005.

Maitri India

Its founders Lt. Gen. Bhopinder Singh (Retd) and Winnie Singh were mainly working with the members of the uniformed services but expanded their activities as it was felt that Maitri’s intervention was needed by other groups of people. One of their key focus areas is widow welfare. Looking at the state of old widows who are often left homeless and survive on begging, Maitri improved the social and economic status of the widows. The NGO has constructed old-age homes for elderly widows in Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh to live in safety and dignity. Under its project Jeewan, it also provides healthy and nutritious meals at its old-age homes and beyond. It has tied up with Akshaya Patra for this. To support Maitri, you can donate here.

Action Aid

ActionAid Association works for social and ecological justice. It has been engaged with the most marginalised communities in India since 1972. The organisation operates in 24 states in India and works with poor, powerless and excluded women, girls, boys and men. ‘Struggle against poverty and injustice’ is at the core of its philosophy. ActionAid works towards facilitating rights and giving dignity to widows. It also continues to highlight the fact that almost all institutional and government initiatives are restricted to ‘widows’, leaving a large section of other single women facing similar vulnerabilities to fend for themselves.

Action Aid

The NGO believes in protecting and promoting the rights of widows and single women through interventions to address the stigma, discrimination and violence faced by them. To support ActionAid, you can donate here.

Manav Vikas Seva Sangh

Founded in 1969, Manav Vikas Seva Sangh is the official social development organisation of the Catholic Diocese of Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. MVSS offers its services to the poor regardless of their caste, ethnicity, creed or religion. It has implemented scores of development projects in assistance with various organisations, including the Government of India, Childline India Foundation and others on widow welfare, rehabilitation of the destitute and much more.

Manav Vikas Seva Sangh

Some of its objectives are sustainable livelihood, sustainable agriculture, promotion of education, child rights, natural resource management and women empowerment. As a part of its women empowerment projects, widow rehabilitation is one of the focus areas. It helps widows stand on their own feet by training them in income generation activities and providing them with financial aid. To support Manav Vikas Seva Sangh, you can donate here.

Rehabilitative Assistance for People in Distress

A Dharwad-based organisation in rehabilitative care for single women, single mothers and women in distress, the NGO helps in creating social and economic opportunities through counselling, education, skill development and employment.

The idea of Rehabilitative Assistance for People in Distress (RAPID) was conceived by Vijay Kulkarni while he was working in microfinance and livelihood creation. When he came across single women who were either widows or had been deserted by their husbands, he launched RAPID in 2001 to serve this section of the society.

Rehabilitative Assistance for People in Distress

This non profit organization has assisted over 4,000 women through rehabilitative care. Under its various projects, it trains women to become financially and socially independent. To support Rehabilitative Assistance for People in Distress, you can donate here.


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